“Don’t make me go! I don’t want to go to school!”

My son’s little pudgy hands pulled on my skirt, and his huge teary eyes pulled on my heart. It was the fourth day of preschool, but he still was scared to be there without me.

These moments are so hard for a mother. Of course, I knew that I was doing what was good for him, but seeing him so tormented tied my stomach up in doubt.

“I want to be with yoooooooooooooou!” he pleaded.

An idea sparked.

There are moments that are ultimately for our good, but are excruciatingly hard to go throughI kneeled down in front of him and asked me to hand me his backpack. Sniffling, he shrugged it off and shoved it into my hand. Unzipping the bag a few inches, I created a small hole.

“Look,” I said softly, “This morning I put a sandwich and carrot sticks in your bag, so that you won’t be hungry. Do you know what I am going to put in now? Kisses! And hugs! And smiles! Lots and lots of them! When you begin to feel sad in school, then you just open up the bag a little bit and put your cheek on the hole, and kisses and hugs will fly at you!”

His eyes brightened, and he couldn’t help but smile, revealing the tiniest little teeth that always remind me of little square soup nuts.

I kissed and kissed into the opening while he giggled. Then I smiled into the bag, hugged it tight, and zipped it up. My son, looking much braver, took my hand and we began to walk together.

As we walked, I listened to the morning songs of the birds, and felt the early sun caress my skin, and it occurred to me that we all essentially have a backpack on our backs. Ours have been packed by G‑d.

G‑d sends us out into this earthly world, where we can’t see Him or hear Him. There are moments that are ultimately for our good, but are excruciatingly hard to go through. Whether it is the stress of waiting a week for an emergency MRI appointment or the pain of saying goodbye to a loved one forever, sometimes it feels as if He has abandoned us, and we shrivel up in fear. Even in those bleak moments, if we look around us, we will find millions of His “kisses” in every moment of every day. Sometimes, it is a helpful neighbor who saves the day; sometimes, it is a child’s laugh. Maybe it is a starry sky or the smell of an overflowing jasmine plant. Whatever the kiss may look or feel like, it is a moment when we are comforted and encouraged, when we feel that the world is perfectly wonderful and that we have so much to be happy for.

Maimonides gave us a guaranteed way to arouse the affection between ourselves and our Creator. It’s called nature. Examining an autumn leaf or the structure of a banana is enough to instill awareness of the Creator’s greatness. A moss-covered rock, a line of marching ants—we are surrounded by boundless miracles. Read about one day in life of a human embryo, and you will find your mouth hanging open in awe. Allowing ourselves to see nature’s wonders will open us up to feeling grateful and loved by the One who is behind it all.

Examining an autumn leaf or the structure of a banana is enough to instill awareness of the Creator’s greatnessOne hiker testified that his first time feeling G‑d in his life was when he stood at the top of a mountain overlooking Doubtful Sound, a fjord in New Zealand. At that moment, he realized that the Creator of this spectacular place created him, too, and he owed it to himself to find out why.

Sukkot. We leave the wallpapered concrete and ceramic tiles of our home, and move out to nature. Outside, we can hear the leaves dancing in the wind, and see the stars sparkling between the branches of the sechach that covers our sukkah. The crickets sing a lullaby to those falling asleep on a mattress in the sukkah, and the dew kisses them awake at sunrise. Out in the world that G‑d created for the pleasure of mankind, mankind can shake away the indifference to His love and begin to reciprocate.

“I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is for me, the Shepherd of roses.” Why “the Shepherd of roses”? Since when do roses need shepherding? Do they stray away like sheep or goats? King Solomon’s hidden message to us is that when we make ourselves into roses, He is our Shepherd. A rose is a symbol of freshness, of love that is alive and thriving. If a rose is not fresh, it is not beautiful; when the relationship between man and his Creator is not fresh and alive, then it is like a withered rose.

We, the Jewish people, are forever in the stage of newly opened buds: always questioning, learning and thinking, to deepen our lives and connection to what is real.